Tharanga’s 174 seals giant win for Sri Lanka

A career-best 174 not out by Man of the Match Upul Tharanga and his record-breaking 213-run partnership with Mahela Jayawardene helped Sri Lanka beat India by 161 runs in the third match of the Celkon Mobile Tri-Nations Series Cup in Kingston on Tuesday (July 2). India, with poor displays in all departments of the game, was thoroughly outplayed and looked nothing like the No. 1-ranked side that won the Champions Trophy just nine days ago.

Chasing 349 to win, India needed to fire from the word ‘go’, but lost Rohit Sharma in the fifth over to a sharp catch by Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lankan captain, off Nuwan Kulasekara’s bowling.  While Shikhar Dhawan hit three bright boundaries after a watchful beginning, Murali Vijay, coming in at No. 3, looked uncomfortable as the Sri Lankans restricted the pair to singles, taking the air out of the chase.

Disciplined bowling backed by agile fielding, in stark contrast to India’s performance earlier in the day, meant Sri Lanka allowed India to reach 50 only in the 14th over. The sustained pressure got the better of Dhawan eventually, as the opener, after labouring to a 42-ball 24, tried to force the pace only to pick out the man at midwicket fence.

When Virat Kohli departed soon after, hooking Mathews to deep fine leg, India’s hopes of mounting a comeback were as good as over. The score read 57 for 3. The only seemingly realistic goal left for the Indians was to save face and not allow Sri Lanka notch up the bonus point as well.

That ambitious goal nosedived further when Vijay was castled by Lasith Malinga. Soon Dinesh Karthik also fell, drawn out of his crease by Rangana Herath and comfortably stumped. Suresh Raina hit a run-a-ball 33 before being run out (142/6) and with it went any unrealistic chance of preventing Sri Lanka from gaining the bonus point.

Senanayake took two wickets in two balls, reducing India to 153 for 8. Ravindra Jadeja provided some excitement for the smattering of India fans with his unbeaten 49 as Malinga cleaned up Umesh Yadav to complete a miserable day for India.

On the contrary, the purposeful Sri Lankan batting had started slow but developed a head of steam before powering through the last 20 overs. It was built around two glorious centuries from their openers, Tharanga and Jayawardene, as the two stroked their way to the highest partnership recorded in a One-Day International in the West Indies, pushing the total to a massive 348 for 1. Thanks in part to the missed run outs, dropped catches and inconsistent bowling that marked a miserable day for India with the ball.

Earlier, Kohli, captaining India for the first time in a full game, won the toss and had no hesitation in asking Sri Lanka to bat. India decided to rest Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and replace him with Mohammad Shami, while Vijay was brought in for MS Dhoni, the injured skipper.

Tharanga was edgy early on – after having survived two run-out chances – until he hit a confident square cut in the sixth over of the innings as Sri Lanka slowly stepped up the scoring rate to end the first Power Play at 47 for no loss. Soon, Tharanga went past the personal landmark of 5000 career ODI runs as well.

Spin was introduced in the 13th over in the form of Jadeja. Vijay dropped a straightforward chance at short third man as Jayawardene, then on 26, attempted a reverse sweep. Jayawardene took advantage of the life and began to open up, depositing Ishant Sharma over wide long on for the first six of the morning. Two balls later, Yadav, caught in two minds at the fine-leg boundary, let an uncontrolled pull from Jayawardene bounce in front of him and run away to the boundary. Jayawardene soon brought up his half-century as Sri Lanka reached 100 for no loss in the 22nd over.

The openers bided their time, taking singles and not allowing the bowlers to get into any sort of rhythm. Kohli brought himself as well as Raina on as he tried to switch his bowlers around but to no avail. Sri Lanka opted to take the Power Play at the end of 34th over, with the total on 168. More boundaries flowed as the run rate started to rise. Jayawardene, meanwhile, reached his 32nd ODI century (107 balls, 9×4, 1×6) as Sri Lanka rolled past the 200-run mark.

Yadav dropped Tharanga on 91 but made amends as he caught Jayawardene brilliantly when the former Sri Lankan captain attempted another reverse sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin. It was already the 39th over by then and the total had reached 213. Mathews promoted himself up the order to make the most of a flagging bowling attack.

Tharanga soon reached his 13th ODI century off just 124 balls (11×4) as Sri Lanka set themselves up for a final assault in the last ten overs. Interestingly, it was only the fourth time that both openers had scored centuries against India after Geoff Marsh and David Boon (1986), Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs (2000) and Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed (2012).

Sri Lanka reached 250 at the end of 42 overs. Two sixes of a Jadeja over followed as Tharanga went past his personal best of 133 and Sri Lanka went past 300. Mathews also helped himself to some quick runs (44 off 29), putting up hundred runs with Tharanga in just 56 deliveries.

None of the frontline bowlers were impressive, as India conceded 180 runs in the 16 overs since the start of the second Power Play. Tharanga, for his part, entered the record books with an unbeaten 174 (159 balls), the highest individual score recorded in an ODI in the Caribbean. India’s effort in the field was so poor that, of the 3382 ODIs played to date, this was the highest total conceded while taking just one wicket.

(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)